Used data to determine and understand the needs of neighborhoods with higher crime rates.
Lights on Little Rock, a streetlight canvassing project, engaged residents across 163 neighborhoods in the process of using data to improve their city.
Launched R.O.C.K academy, a data-analytic program designed to catalyze civic engagement by showing people how city government works.
311 Data and Neighborhood Safety
Newly aware of Midtown’s challenges, city officials decided to engage residents in the neighborhood and adjacent areas. Data Academy members hosted a human-centered design workshop, during which residents were given the opportunity to self-prioritize their pressing concerns. Rather than lead the workshop, officials from various city departments quietly observed the discussion.
The main issue that emerged? Many parts of Midtown were poorly lit due to broken or blocked streetlights. Many residents didn’t feel safe and didn’t know how to alert the City to get lights fixed or vegetation cut back. A review of 311 request data showed that few streetlight problems in the area were ever reported to the City.
Aware of studies showing the correlation between dark streets and crime, the City designed a streetlight canvassing project in partnership with area neighborhood associations to engage and empower residents. Bridges and her team built canvassing route maps using Google Maps and Little Rock Citizen Connect, which collects 311 requests and other data sets. Then they gathered resident volunteers to walk or drive Midtown’s streets on a Friday night, using the City’s 311 mobile app to make a light service request and tag the location.
“The impact was immediately clear in the 311 data,” Bridges says. Thirty-seven streetlight-related requests were submitted in one night, compared to a total of 15 service requests made via the 311 system in Midtown during the previous 10 months. The City replicated the effort in another neighborhood with similar success, using 311 data to facilitate light repairs by the power company.
The next step: a citywide campaign involving all 163 neighborhood associations called Lights on Little Rock, which launched in February 2019. Bridges created and distributed a four-page report detailing the canvassing and 311 reporting process. Word got around and success followed success. A group of college fraternity members fulfilled their community service requirements by canvassing an entire community in one night. One resident recounted at a town hall meeting how she and her child turned streetlight canvassing into a game.